By Johna Till Johnson


Subway scene February 2017

I love subways. I’m not sure why.

It’s not just how functional they are, how efficiently they take you in minutes to places that would otherwise require hours of travel through traffic-choked streets.

It’s partly—even mostly— because of the way they instantly, magically adjust your experience.  You go down a staircase and in a moment find yourself safely (or swelteringly) out of the elements.

Perhaps there’s music, anything from a violin to a jazz band, interrupted by the blare of announcements and the scream of trains.  Regardless of whether it was day or night outside, cloudy or clear, the light has changed to a steady, unflattering overhead glow.

Shadows seem deeper, edges sharper. Platforms roll off to the side, hiding themselves behind square pillars. And there are people all around, almost all intent on ignoring you.

It’s an alternate reality, a step out of space and time. And when you emerge at the far end, you’re never quite the same person who first entered…

23 responses to “Subways

  1. Love the framing/film strip effect….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not as big a fan as you, Johna, but I do enjoy the photography opportunities they provide. And the people watching.
    Perhaps I need to use the subway in New York more than I usually do on my forthcoming trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great composition, Johna. Subway gallery.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful photo, Johna! Definitely a window on the underground world.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s beautiful written, Johna. I enjoyed every moment your shared with us on the journey <3

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel kinda the same way, especially this strange overtaking and staining aura that you describe at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The photography is wonderful, Johna!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thanks, Lois! Working on it. But I’m proud of myself for recognizing the shot and seizing the moment last night. I almost didn’t have to crop it. Obviously my subconscious is learning a new way of thinking…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The picture is very artistic. Enjoyed reading the post, as it took me back to the local train journeys in the city from where I come – Mumbai.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Johna! this is very much how I feel in our underground light rail here in Seattle. There is something almost magical about the feeling of rushing away from a station underground, through a human-made tunnel, and five minutes later you are in downtown, a trip that would have taken 15-20 minutes in no traffic, much long if traffic. I like your phrase, “It’s partly—even mostly— because of the way they instantly, magically adjust your experience. ” Very nice”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful photo! Living in Alaska has not provided me many opportunities for subway experience, but your “alternate reality” description is excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

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  13. MomwithanMBTAmission

    Beautiful description! This helps me understand why my son might love them so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      If you and your son ever want to come to NYC to do a “subway trip”, I would be honored to accompany you! I’m not at Alex’s level of obsession, but I definitely understand it. If you want to, let me know and we’ll set a date. I’ll bring my camera.

      Here are some other posts you and he might enjoy:
      and this one:

      I can’t even explain how exhilarated the train station left me. That track is AMAZING. It’s magic–or at least to a supposed grown-up like me who is supposed to be thinking all kinds of Important Thoughts and NOT looking at all the discarded junk.


      • MomwithanMBTAmission

        He’s actually been begging me to go to NYC as we haven’t been there in about 5 years but even then we did get to visit the Subway museum which was really cool! (Even for me). Thanks for sharing those other posts… we’ll check them out!


  14. Amazing picture. It seems the people are doing separate things as if they were in cubicles. I know it is an illusion, but the pillars such a great effect.


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